Airlines Lift Profits on Stronger Fares
Despite jet fuel prices holding at a higher level in the third quarter, two airlines reported strong earnings and reiterated their plans to limit the number of seats they plan to put in the air.
That move is good news for investors, but not for travelers who see higher fares as we head into the holiday season. (Read More: Thanksgiving Flights Will Cost More This Year.)
Delta: Limited capacity, stronger corporate travel revenue
The country's second largest airline earned just over a billion dollars in the third quarter. Excluding special items, the airline earned $768 million, or $.90 per share; that was a penny below wall street estimates.
In the quarter Delta took market share from corporate travel accounts. Delta admits some of that improvement with business flyers stemmed from business flyers frustrated by the cancellations and poor on-time performances at American and United Airlines . However, Delta believes the impact was modest. Still, Delta earned 3 percent more per passenger in the third quarter due stronger pricing. (Read More: US Tops Business Travel Spending, but Not for Long.)
US Airways: Profits Double with Strong Margins
US Airways , also profiting by limiting capacity, posted Q3 earnings more than double what they were in the same quarter last year.
The Phoenix-based airline earned $192 million dollars, excluding special charges. It beat the street estimates by 6 cents earning $0.98/per share. US Airways posted an operating margin of 7.6 percent and more importantly for investors, forecast strong revenue for the remainder of the year.
US Airways is in the midst of discussing a possible merger with American Airlines, but executives did not comment on that possibility during the company's earnings call. (Read More: How an American-US Airways Merger Could Impact Travelers.)
—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau